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Thursday, June 23, 2022

OPINION:

The midterm elections are coming, and President Biden’s Democrats are in big trouble, so naturally many in the corporate news media are lending aid by trying to reorient the conversation away from Biden’s many failures.

First, the landscape.


You know things are bad for Democrats when the vice president of the United States is forced to slash prices for photo ops because almost no one is willing to pay top dollar. Having your picture taken with Kamala Harris at a Democratic National Committee event last month would have cost you $15,000, but it was postponed for lack of interest. Pictures with Ms. Harris at a different event later this month will go for only $5,000.

This is how it is in Biden World, a place of relentless bad news, cratering poll numbers, and increasingly thin excuses. Even the wealthy Democratic Party faithful don’t want to open their checkbooks to be seen with the woman who would be a frontrunner to take Mr. Biden’s place on the ballot if he doesn’t run in 2024.

Every single public poll tells you that things are not going well in this country and most people are not happy about it. The public also has a grim outlook on what the months ahead hold, particularly economically, as the critical congressional midterm elections quickly approach.

Most pundits forecast a thorough shellacking for Mr. Biden and his Democratic Party, as do the media. And many in the corporate media are now desperately trying to recast the midterm elections in terms that are more favorable to Mr. Biden.

The problem is that Americans know what’s really happening. Inflation is crushing family budgets, the price of gasoline hits a record high almost every day, the southern border remains in crisis, and “woke” culture still shouts down any differing points of view.

So, what are the media doing about it? Why, deflecting and diverting, of course.

Economic concerns register at the top of every issue survey, so the Los Angeles Times is assuring everyone that the looming recession will be mostly painless. 

The Times story carried the soothing headline, “Yes, a recession looks inevitable. But it may not be that bad. Here’s why.” In the report, talk of a recession was labeled partly “political theater,” while a recession itself was called “a normal part of American economic life.”

You see, inflation may be sky high and a recession may be around the corner, but those aren’t things the media want you thinking about as the election draws near.

No, they’d rather you think about abortion because the media believe a possible Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade would help Democrats.

“Democrats energized after leaked abortion decision jolts midterms,” NBC News applauded.

“Will abortion outrage = midterm wins for Dems?” wondered a Politico headline.

“Democrats see midterm election boost from abortion ruling leak,” reported Roll Call.

And if you’re not motivated by killing unborn babies, then the media would like you to consider undermining the Second Amendment.

ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel had Mr. Biden as a guest and practically begged the president to make gun control a political issue.

“Democrats pledge to press gun control to the forefront of 2022 midterm elections,” confirmed Fox News.

“Abortion and guns may awaken a slumbering giant for Democrats,” wrote Robert Reich, former labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, in The Guardian.

(It should be noted that Senate Republicans inexplicably folded to Democrats on a gun control package that infuriated the GOP base but delighted the media, which praised the bravery of the Republican defectors.)

But the biggest side show the media hope will divert attention away from Mr. Biden’s failures is the Jan. 6 select committee.

“Jan. 6 Hearings Give Democrats a Chance to Recast Midterm Message,” blared a New York Times headline. 

Referring to the hearings as “made-for-television moments” which have been “carefully choreographed,” the Times detailed hopes that hearings focused on former President Donald Trump will change the dynamics for Democrats.

But even the Times admitted that the fundamentals are extremely rough for Team Biden, noting that it’s “an uphill battle at a time when polls show that voters’ attention is focused elsewhere, including on inflation, rising coronavirus cases and record-high gas prices.”

When inflation makes everything more expensive, with the apparent lone exception of a picture with Ms. Harris, the media know that Mr. Biden and his party are in trouble. 

“It’s the economy, stupid,” was the internal mantra for Mr. Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign for the White House, reminding the candidate that pocketbook issues dominated voters’ attention.

Today, Democrats and the media would rather talk about anything but.   

• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist and the founder and principal of Line Drive Public Affairs, a communication consulting firm.


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